Pakistan national senior hockey team will visit New Zeeland and Australia in March next year for the preparation of qualifying rounds for World Cup 2018.
Both counties have confirmed the tour of the Green-shirts, ‘The News’ has learnt.
Chief coach Khuwaja Junaid said that the training camp would be held from January 10 in Karachi, Islamabad or Lahore.
He said that Pakistan would visit New Zeeland from the second week of March to play five test matches with New Zeeland. They would go to Australia for a four-nation tournament, he added.
He said that the third team was New Zealand and the fourth team was yet to be decided.
He said that qualification for World Cup 2018 was the main target. After the juniors’ unjust exclusion from the World Cup in India, all eyes are set on the seniors, he said.
He said the qualifying rounds for World Cup 2018 would be held in London in June 2017. “Before that we want to play maximum number of international matches so that our boys are able to compete at the highest level,” the chief coach said.
He said that after New Zealand and Australia tours, Pakistan team would go to Malaysia in April, where they would participate in the Sultan Azlan Shah hockey tournament.
PHF is trying to arrange some other international competitions for the Green-shirts to finalise the preparation for London qualifying round in June.
He said that the camp would have 40 to 45 players. The 18 players of junior team would be included in the camp.
“We will thoroughly check the juniors and all players will be given chances to prove their skill,” he said.
He said the training camp would be short and focus on fitness and fine tuning of skills. “The boys have been playing regularly so we don’t want to burden them,” Junaid said.
“Six players may be allowed to participate in the Malaysian league because it does not clash with national team’s engagements. The league has a good status, so it’s nothing to worry about,” said the chief coach.